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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Updates and Background, 1 Nigeria: Updates and Background, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 020107
Document reposted by Africa Action

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+


This posting contains several excerpts from Nigerian press reports and other sources related to current political developments in Nigeria, as the country enters the final year before national elections scheduled for February, 2003. The excerpts include (1) several items related to the Dec. 23 assassination of Attorney General Bola Ige, a widely respected and outspoken 71-year lawyer, former state governor, and close friend of President Olusegun Obasanjo who has served as a key link between the federal government and civil society, particularly in Ige's home southwestern region; (2) a brief description of the September 2001 National Workshop on Constitutional Reform, sponsored by the Citizens' Forum for Constitutional Reform and International IDEA, held in September, 2001, and (3) several additional links.

A related posting also sent out today contains, as background, brief excerpts from the introduction and synthesis of the November 2000 report from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) on Democracy in Nigeria.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Note: the following are brief excerpts only from the articles. For full text see the URL for each article. For much additional coverage see

Bola Ige Shot Dead

This Day (Lagos) December 24, 2001

By Kunle Akogun, Oma Djebah
Lagos And Osogbo

Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige was last night shot dead in his bedroom at his Bodija, Ibadan residence in an apparent assassination.

It was gathered that the gun men shot the Cicero of Esa Oke at about 9.00 pm with a single bullet to his heart. He had returned from Lagos at about 8.30pm, family sources told THISDAY and asked his security men to go and have their dinner as he retired upstairs.

The gunmen who may have been waiting in the vicinity then stormed the house and tying up family members, got one of them to lead them uptstairs to the room of Chief Bola Ige where they led his wife and son to an adjourning room and locked them up.

The gunmen then met Ige alone in the bedroom and shot him with a single bullet in the heart, family sources said.

He was then left on the floor as the gunmen made their way out without stealing anything. However when one of the granddaughters raised an alarm, family members rushed to his room and then rushed him to the hospital. He died on his way to the Oluyoro Catholic Hospital, Ibadan. ...

His attack may not be unconnected with his unwavering support for the Osun State governor, Chief Bisi Akande, who is locked in a battle of wits with his deputy, Iyiola Omisore, an Ife indigene.

The Akande-Omisore imbroglio has recently taken a new twist following attempts to commence impeachment proceedings against Omisore at the State House of Assembly. ...

This led to fracas on the floor of the House with many of the lawmakers getting bruised.

And last Wednesday, a prominent member of the House representing Ife Central Local Government area was matchetted to death by people believed to be political thugs.

The legislator, Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju, was said to have been accosted by a group of young men who beat and dealt several cuts on him. It was gathered that the late lawmaker ran into the assassins who had apparently laid ambush for him at the scene of the incident when he was returning home.

From Where Have These Beasts Strayed Without Tether?

This Day (Lagos) EDITORIAL December 28, 2001

It is hard to believe that Chief Bola Ige, the owner of wits and the Cicero of Nigerian politics, is gone. His brutal murder Sunday night will definitely cause a shift in our local politics in the times ahead. So much has been said about the road to 2003 being pregnant with dark portents. But if this be a fore-taste, then it's simply unacceptable.

The man undeniably embodied so many things about our politics. The way and manner these beasts chose to abbreviate his life is a clear antithesis of the cause of peace and progress to which he was fanatically devoted all his life. ...

It is correct to say that people of my generation grew up to the Ige mystique. We inherited fables of how, with a force of mere tongue, he once floored Chief Richard Akinjide during a live television debate in 1979. Then, Ige was the governorship candidate of Unity Party of Nigeria in Oyo state while Akinjide stood on the platform of National Party of Nigeria. ...

Now, while featuring on the television programme that day, Akinjide sought to belittle that legacy [of free education] by saying on air that the so-called free education policy largely bred vagabonds and idiots. Characteristically, Ige thereafter established that relations of Akinjide benefitted from that programme and, therefore, challenged him to list those in his (Akinjide's) family who were the nonentities. Cornered, Akinjide stood up and walked out on the television camera. Voters chose Ige on the election day. ...

Ige certainly did not belong to the category of politicians who needed to spend money to win election. In his native South-West, elections are often won on your own personal integrity based on the perception of your past and not the bribe you offer people on the streets. In fact, some accounts have it that Ige had cause to lampoon one of the leaders of Alliance for Democracy in Edo state after the elections in 1999. While reviewing AD performance in Edo that year, Ige was said to have remarked in one of those their caucus meetings that "Can you imagine he (the said party leader) failed to deliever Edo in spite of the quarter of a million naira we gave him."

Elsewhere, such expectation that N250,000 could win a state election would have elicited dismissive laughter. But this clearly showed the tradition from which Ige came. It showed that Ige believed that personal integrity more than money should be the factor that wins election.

This is why I think Ige is an irreparable loss. That loss would be particularly felt in the South-West where he was evidently a folk hero. He was a true defender of the interest of his people. He had what not many had: charisma. At this juncture, saying nice things about him would not be enough. The Federal Government must bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to book and soonest. As the local saying goes, these are beasts that have strayed from the wild forest into the community without tether around their necks. They need to be tamed. They need to be punished for that monumental act of wickedness. I share the opinion of those who say that in seeking these beasts, the dragnet should not be restricted to the anarchic political jungle which Osun State has turned in the last few weeks. Ige was a player that was bigger than Osun. Care should be taken to extend the search to other possibilities: be it business, social and even inside government. For, in his glorious run, the Cicero certainly stepped on many toes.

The killers must be found.

Tribute: We The Children of Ige

This Day (Lagos) OPINION December 31, 2001

As Second Republic Governor of old Oyo State, Chief Ajibola Ige, who was felled last week by assasin's bullet, was father to hundreds of thousand of school children whom he gave free education. Waheed Odusile, one of the beneficiaries, pays this tribute to the late politician

As a 15 year old high school boy then in Form 4 or what is today known as SSS 2, in Ibadan, Oyo State, I had no idea what free education was like and would likely be in the new dispensation we were being promised then. Even when the governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the 1979 general elections in the state, Uncle Bola Ige was promising free education, free health, integrated rural development and full and gainfull empolyment for all (the four cardinal programmes of the UPN) during his electioneering campaigns, I still didn't know what it meant other than the fact that my parents might not have to pay my school fees again should the UPN win the election. ...

Even when a now victorious Bola Ige declared at his swearing-in on 1st October, 1979 at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan that "as from today education is free at all levels in Oyo State" the import of the statement had still not sunk properly. It was not until I got to school the new session and was handed texbooks, exercise books and other stationeries courtesy of the Oyo State government that it finally dawned on me that truly, education is free in the state and my parents won't have to pay my school fees again. What a big relief. With the abolition of school fees, students/pupils were able to feed well and adequately clothed, as parents had enough money to give them.

I wasn't the only one that was happy. Many, if not all my school mates were. Since our parents could not afford to send us to private schools like the children of the privileged few, we had to contend with jostling for few places available in public schools and even then, the fees were a bit high, such that our parents had to struggle to meet up. ...

Expectedly, the success of the free education programme did not go down well with the opposition in the state, particularly the NPN, which derided it, saying it was leading to a fall in the quality of education. ... the school children of that era were being derisively referred to as Ige's children. We were being described as students with half education and were expected not to do well in society in future. But almost twenty years after, many of us,if not all, are successful in life, thanks to Ige's free education programme. ...

The best the youths who benefitted from Ige could do for him and his memory is to keep faith with the ideals for which he fought for throughout in his life time. A defender of justice and dignity of man, Ige,like his late leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo was first and foremost a Yorubaman who believed in one Nigeria, A trully federal Nigeria where all the federating units are allowed to develop at their own pace and regulate their affairs accordingly, only ceeding little powers to the federal government.

Granted the fact that he might have been ascerbic with his toungue, this was within the context of his belief in and ability to always call a spade a spade. ...

A nationalist to the core, Ige knew when it was time for national service as he put personal consideration aside to take up appointment under President Olusegun Obasanjo, first as Mines and Power Minister and later Attorney General and Minister of Justice, to the consternation of some of his allies and comrades in Afenifere.

Perhaps knowing fully well that the future of Yoruba politics lie in inclusiveness and integration, Bola Ige tried to broaden Yoruba appeal to other ethnic nationalities in the country without jeopardising the interest of his people. Among his Yoruba people, he tried to bring the youths into leadership and decision making. Though an old man, Ige was able to accommodate the youths and their exuberance and at the same time enjoyed the confidendence of the elders. He was the unofficial link between the old and the young in Yorubaland, one whom the youths could trust and open their hearts to and in whom also the elders could confide.

As we mourn this great son of Oduduwa,it would be a great disaster for the Yoruba nation if his killers were fellow Yorubas and most disappointingly, a member of the younger generation for whom he laboured to empower.

Nigeria National Workshop on Constitutional Reform

[Brief excerpts; more available in Word document format on IDEA website]

See also Citizen's Forum for Constitutional Reform

For further information contact:

International IDEA's temporary office in Lagos, Nigeria 37, Kofo Abayomi,
Victoria Island, flat nr. 7
Tel: +234-1-262 4974 (also for faxes)

International IDEA, Stromsborg, 103 34 Stockholm, Sweden Margot Gould Tel: +46 8 6983723 Fax: +46 8 202422 E-mail:

A workshop on constitutional reform was held in Abuja, Nigeria, 25-28 September, organized by International IDEA in partnership with the Citizens' Forum for Constitutional Reform (CFCR). Around 100 participants representing a wide variety of NGOs and key government decision-makers drawn from each of the 6 Zones (regions) of Nigeria, as well as international experts from regions such as Asia and Southern Africa, attended the workshop. Among the participants were Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Chief Bola Ige, Minister Gerry Gana and Independent National Election Commission (INEC) Chairman Dr Abel Goubadia.

The workshop was an outcome of International IDEA's Assessment Report Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing Dialogue(s) for Nation-Building, which identified constitutional reform as the key issue in the country's democratization agenda. A report will be produced summarising the key constitutional reforms proposed in the workshop and outlining the broader debates on issues of legislative reform.

Constitutional reform is widely understood to be the critical first step to democratization. Over the years Nigeria has had a series of failed constitutions, and the current one was imposed by the previous military regime. In this context the workshop aims to begin a process of focused discussions on constitutional reform itself, with the ultimate goal of helping to achieve ownership and thus legitimacy for the constitution. ...

The 1999 constitution and review process in Nigeria

With the 1999 transition from a military to a civilian government, Nigerians have intensified their quest for a constitutional democracy and constitutionalism. The nature of the transition itself and the process, through which the current constitution emerged, meant that the constitution had little input from the populace. Unveiled literally on the eve of the hand-over from military to civilian government, the 1999 Constitution has been dogged by criticism and a crisis of legitimacy. This crisis has been articulated both in terms of its content and also in relation to the process that led to its emergence.

'A gift from the military' is how incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo described the 1999 Constitution when inaugurating the Presidential Constitutional Review Committee. In this President Obasanjo was responding to the national consensus that held that the 1999 Constitution needs to be reviewed.

In the last two years, the 1999 Constitution has been under review and the recommendations of the Presidential Technical Committee are now being debated throughout the country.

At the same time the National Assembly inaugurated its own committee, arguing that constitutional review is in fact the responsibility of the National Assembly. The National Assembly's constitutional review process is still continuing, with the committee visiting various states across the country.

The two processes, although independent, need not in fact be contradictory. In the final analysis, the legislature will have to address the promulgation of the reviewed constitution.

There is a wide consensus across the country that the 1999 Constitution should be reviewed, and there has been a very dynamic debate on its content. Nigerians have made submissions to both the Presidential Technical Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution and also to the National Assembly Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

In spite of this, calls for a participatory constitution-making process and a national dialogue have intensified.

The National Dialogue: Building a Constitutional Contract between the Citizens and the State

Following the debate across the country, it is evident that there is a wide and sufficient consensus on the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution. Similarly, there is a wide consensus that significant strides have been made by the incumbent government to address constitutional review and its efforts to subject the debate to public participation and scrutiny.

However, there is a persistent call for a national dialogue that is linked to the constitutional debate. One of the issues that has emerged very strongly in the debate is that despite its many efforts at constitution-making in the past, these have largely been the preserve of 'hand picked' committees of 'wise men' (and few women).

Essentially, the call for participatory constitution-making addresses the need to legitimize the process and ensure that citizens is an integral part of the debate. Following such a turbulent history of militarism, and continuing and controversial constitutional debates and processes, Nigerians argue that the constitution-making process can also be an opportunity for the consolidation of the national project.

Today, there is a consensus that there should be a national dialogue. Throughout the zonal and thematic workshops that were conducted by International IDEA and the Steering Committee of the Nigerian Contact Group between June and August 2001, the call for National Dialogue was reaffirmed. The workshops included government officials, legislators, civil society organizations, religious and spiritual leaders from diverse political, cultural, religious and ideological backgrounds.

For its part, the government has also started processes of consultations on the mechanisms and modalities of a National Conference. The presidency has called on opinion makers to consult and present proposals on how such a national dialogue can be organized and conducted. ...

Also see:

Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing the Dialogues,
Report of the Zonal Workshops, June-August 2001

Additional Recent Links

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Jos: A City Torn Apart (Human Rights Watch, December, 2001)

Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria

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Fuel Prices Hike (This Day, Jan. 7, 2002)

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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